'Frightening': Shock fire pic from plane
Terrifying photos of the "apocalyptic" fires that have killed two people are emerging online, as unprecedented fires continue to rip through at least 100 homes in NSW.
The NSW Rural Fire Service confirmed the death of the first victim at 8am Saturday, which occurred at the Kangawalla fire, near Glen Innes. Two people remain unaccounted for and 30 are injured.
Now NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, has confirmed a second tragic death during a press conference about the state's emergency situation.
"Our thoughts and prayers of course go to the families and loved ones of those two deceased persons," she said, warning residents to "brace ourselves" for the "concerning" weather yet to come.
Terrifying photos of the fire are unfolding online, with many sharing shots of billowing smoke and raging flames.
One photo shared on Twitter on Saturday morning, taken on a plane flying from Sydney to Brisbane by Matt Hope, shows the horror scenes unfolding across on the ground.
"So frightening," he wrote about witnessing the dramatic moments from the sky.
Other photos filled social media sites showing scary scenes of the fire from backyards and streets.
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This was the Smith Street last night. These fires are crazy. We met some people last night who had just lost their home, another who's neighbor had lost their home and one other who wasn't sure if they had lost there home. So tragic and scary. #reflect #smithstreetkempsey #kempseyshire #kempsey #macleay #macleayvalley #ilovekempsey #ilovethemacleayvalleycoast #ilovethemacleayvalley #bushfireseason #bushfire #kempseynsw #midnorthcoast #kempseyshirecouncil
Parts of New South Wales and Queensland continued to burn on Saturday as residents were trapped in homes and flames proved a struggle for firefighters to reach those in need.
It comes as extremely hot, dry and windy conditions are expected to lash parts of Western Australia, increasing the risk of bushfires in the state.
Firefighters have located the remains of a person in a vehicle at the Kangawalla fire, near Glen Innes. Two people remain unaccounted for after yesterday's bush fires. NSW RFS is working with @nswpolice. #nswrfs #nswfires— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) 8 November 2019
NSW firefighters are in "uncharted territory" as more than 12 emergency level fires rage across the state with reports of people injured and trapped in their homes.
On Friday evening the NSW Rural Fire Service reported 82 fires burning with 12 of them at emergency level, mostly across the north coast and northern NSW from the Blue Mountains to the Queensland border.
LEAVE IMMEDIATELY: Lower Beechmont bushfire as at 6.00am Sat 9 Nov: https://t.co/QCujiHWrhE— Qld Fire & Emergency (@QldFES) 8 November 2019
At this stage, it appears at least 100 homes have been destroyed in yesterday's bush fires. Three people are unaccounted for. More than 30 people have been injured. At 6:30am there are 77 bush or grass fires with 42 uncontained. #nswrfs #nswfires pic.twitter.com/WtB9O671bU— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) 8 November 2019
NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said he had previously only seen six to eight emergency-level blazes at once, meaning the current situation was "unprecedented".
"Unfortunately we are in uncharted territory this afternoon - we've never seen this many fires concurrently at emergency warning level," he said.
"It's a very dynamic, it's a very volatile and it's a very dangerous set of circumstances that we're experiencing."
Prime Minster Scott Morrison said he was receiving regular updates and urged residents to listen to emergency services.
"Incredibly concerning there are a large number of bushfires burning at emergency levels in NSW and Qld … I'm getting regular updates and we stand ready to offer any assistance needed," he tweeted.
TWO HOMES DESTROYED
There have been multiple reports of people trapped in property with at least two homes already destroyed and fears of many more to come.
Commissioner Fitzsimmons said there were reports of "multiple community areas being impacted, loss, damage and destruction". There were also some early reports of injuries yet to be confirmed, and some minor injuries to firefighters.
More than 1000 firefighters and 70 aircraft had been deployed "to save as many people as possible".
"Today has been a difficult and dangerous day. Unfortunately, many people have called for help but due to the size and speed of the fires we couldn't get to everyone, even by road or helicopter," the Rural Fire Service said at 7:15pm on Friday.
The Pacific Highway has been shut down between Taree and Bulahdelah and Port Macquarie between the Oxley Highway and Hastings River Drive as a result of the fires. The New England Highway has also been closed between Glen Innes and Tenterfield.
The NSW RFS has received multiple reports of people being trapped in their homes, with crews unable to reach them due to the ferocity of the flames.
One resident in the small town of Bobin, near Taree, posted on social media that the school was on fire and at least one resident was trapped. There are potential fatalities at nearby Rainbow Flat, according to Seven News.
"We are going into a phase where the winds are going to be somewhat relentless into the evening," the commissioner said in an online video.
QUEENSLAND ALSO HIT
More than 50 bushfires were also burning across Queensland on Friday afternoon at one point with residents warned to grab their pets and take cover.
Police declared an emergency at Cooroibah and evacuated part of it as a fire threatened homes.
Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington said the situation was "very volatile" early on Friday night.
The fast-moving fire was keeping emergency services on their toes as the winds were changing direction, he said.
"It's going to be a long night, it's going to be a distressing night," Mr Wellington said. "My sympathies go out to everyone."
Cooroibah resident Denyta Eaton fears for the horses she left behind when fleeing her home with her brother and parents.
The family took their dogs but they had no time to walk the horses out. A neighbour cut the fence to prevent the horses, Cody and Effy, being trapped. "There was so much smoke we could barely breathe," she said.
Noosa Pet Resort proprietor Pat Cutting had 40 dogs, six cats and her 80-year-old mother to evacuate.
"At the moment we're hosing everything and we're ready to get all the animals out of here," she told AAP as she got ready to go.
"The rural fire brigade is on the corner. If they come down the driveway it'll be 'yep, let's go'."
People in the path of a blaze at Tarome, in the Scenic Rim area, also left, some to nearby Aratula, after being warned they were in danger.
RESIDENTS WARNED TO TAKE COVER
People who are trapped are being advised to stay inside and take cover until the fire front passes.
Some of the fires are so intense they are creating their own weather conditions and causing "pyrocumulous" clouds to develop. These types of clouds can even create their own thunderstorms and result in dry lightning.
RFS said these are "extremely dangerous" and warned people not to be caught out in the open.
MidCoast Council mayor David West, who lives in Brimbin, said that in his 73 years he had never seen anything like the fire in his area.
"I'm looking at a sky that's screaming danger, that's saying 'get out of my way, I'm going to kill you'," he told AAP on Friday night.
"I know that sounds melodramatic but it's not. This is a fire that's devouring everything in its path.
"From my personal perspective, it's horrifying … I've never felt a sense of anguish that I do now, the fear for my community."
Mr West said a fire near Forster threatened a council building on Thursday night.
"It was literally a wall of yellow, horrible, beastly, tormenting flames," the mayor said.
"It was a horrendous beast."
EMERGENCY WARNING: Bills Crossing Crowdy— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) November 8, 2019
The fire in the Crowdy Bay NP is burning north towards Crowdy Head. The fire is also spreading south towards Harrington. If you're in Crowdy Head or Harrington, monitor conditions & seek shelter as fire approaches. #nswrfs #nswfires #alert pic.twitter.com/DUSPe7GUpK
By 11am today there were 74 fires burning across NSW, with 33 of them not contained.
Multiple homes have reportedly been destroyed across the Port Macquarie, Hastings and Walcha areas.
NSW RFS warned that today's conditions are extremely dangerous and "will be worse than yesterday".
"[There is a] very real potential of fires spreading quickly to threaten communities and destroy homes," the RFS said in a Facebook post.
Five total fire bans are in place across the state today including the Far North Coast, New England, North Coast, Northern Slopes and Greater Hunter regions.
NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said bush and grassfires are currently burning through about 370,000 hectares of land across NSW - more than the entire land area burnt last year.
"We've got a lot of uncontrolled fire right across northeastern NSW and we've got the worst of the weather forecast for northeast NSW today, five areas in total (with a) fire ban," Mr Fitzsimmons told ABC.
"We're talking about widespread, severe fire dangers being predicted today, we're talking about the upper end of the scale - a lot worse than yesterday."
The escalated fire risk comes after a man, aged in his 50s, suffered serious burns to his legs and hands while trying to defend his rural property in Yarrowitch, east of Walcha, on Thursday.
"We need people to be absolutely prepared - we need them to be monitoring local radio, the (RFS) website," Mr Fitzsimmons said.
"The entire corner of northeast NSW is really vulnerable, simply because of the extraordinary fire behaviour and activity yesterday and overnight."